It takes a flow chart to keep straight all the Episcopal- Anglican divisions that have developed in the well-heeled suburbs of DuPage County, west of Chicago. Many assume that the key issue is homosexuality, but a closer look reveals that other factors are at work. For one thing, this story is about charismatic leaders coming and going, and about congregations growing in their presence or folding in their absence.
Alasdair MacIntyre famously compared dying for the modern nation-state to dying for the phone company. One cannot imagine a more dismissive claim about this country for Americans, whether on the left or right, for whom the U.S.
Did Jesus Christ ever have an erection? John Marks poses that question to his Christian friend Craig Detweiler in the film Purple State of Mind, which is showing in limited release and available on DVD (see www.purplestateofmind.com). As the title suggests, the film is about what happens when red-state and blue-state types mix it up.
Of course, the city isn’t gentrifying everywhere. Some struggling sectors, such as Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood, are still seeking modest development in the form of stores, restaurants and decent housing.
The city is changing. For decades white people with money fled the city for the suburbs, leaving behind a mostly brown and black population that was often bereft of resources. But recently, in many cities, patterns of gentrification have reversed this trend. People with money have moved back to the city and rehabbed old housing stock, seeking to live where they work and play.
A Ph.D. student in religion veered off from his friends one morning to head toward the divinity school chapel. “Where are you going?” one of his colleagues asked. “To chapel for the Lord’s Supper,” he replied. His friend thought for a moment before responding with the critical distance beloved in the academy, “Well, that’s problematic.”
The "young earth” creationists behind the new $27 million Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, insist that creation took place in six 24-hour days about 6,000 years ago. The “old earth” creationists, who argue that a “day” in Genesis could be a symbol for millions of years, are considered theological wimps. And advocates of intelligent design? They aren’t even worth a mention.
If you’re a lectionary preacher with access to the Internet, you have probably clicked on textweek.com. The Web site includes extensive links to biblical commentaries and articles on church history, conveniently organized around the upcoming Sunday’s lectionary readings. It also includes suggestions about relevant art, liturgical aids, children’s sermons and movies.
Fergus Kerr’s new book is so good that the only thing worth criticizing about it is its title. Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians is descriptively accurate, but it suggests the detachment of a dull textbook. Don’t let that fool you: this book is genuinely important, and a delight to read besides.
Reverend Billy, otherwise known as Bill Talen, sports poorly dyed blond hair blown and sprayed back in a mighty bowl. In his cheap white suit and a clergy collar, he invites consumers to a booth where they can “confess your shopping sins” and be absolved. He is the pastor of the Church of Stop Shopping, and his Shopocalypse tour has been captured on film in What Would Jesus Buy? directed by Rob VanAlkemade and produced by Morgan Spurlock (creator of Super Size Me).
Elevation, a U2 tribute band, played so loudly that the tunes were unintelligible. Lead singer Danno, named after U2’s Bono, wore shades and donned the leather jacket with the American-flag liner that Bono wore for U2’s Super Bowl performance. Watching him bounce around in a gothic sanctuary was painful.But then Elevation lit into the guitar riff that opens U2’s song of religious longing, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For." Something in me changed, and I started to groove.
Andalusia, the vibrant, southernmost region of Spain, is famous for its party culture, bullfighting and oceans of sunshine. The cathedral spire in the largest city, Seville, which towers over the old quarter, guides pedestrians to the third-largest church in Christendom.
In Mississippi these days, you may hear a candidate insist that “our children should be able to learn and pray in the best schools in the land." You might be surprised to hear the candidate refer to “the day I accepted Christ.” But you might be more surprised—especially if you hail from another part of the country—to learn that the candidate is a Democrat, John Arthur Eaves. At times Eaves seems to be trying to unseat GOP governor Haley Barbour by out-Jesusing him.
Pastor Maria Edmonds is doing gang ministry in the mountains of North Carolina. As she puts it, "They’re not accepted anywhere else. So I figure Jesus would have me spend time with them.”Millions of dollars are spent each year at the federal level to combat gang activity and reduce gang-related violence in our big cities. And, as Edmonds has discovered, gangs are also a feature of life in many small towns.
The Sunday after Pope Benedict XVI authorized the wider use of Latin in the Catholic mass, I went to St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, which has been celebrating mass in Latin for years. In fact, Catholic priests could always use the Latin version of the 1970 Vatican II–inspired liturgy (which at St. John Cantius is called the missa normativa).
Heather from Oregon sounds like a born-again woman, financially speaking. “I finally got everything paid. . . . No more credit cards, no more student loan!“ She thanks radio personality and anticredit crusader Dave Ramsey for freeing her from her bondage to consumer debt.She's not the only Ramsey fan. The tough-talking, quick-witted evangelical radio personality from Nashville has an audience of millions that includes both religious and secular listeners.
Surgeon general appointees are often controversial, usually for reasons having to do with sex. Conservatives fumed when C. Everett Koop praised the virtues of the condom and when Jocelyn Elders extolled the virtues of masturbation.
A friend of mine has an idea for teaching youth about sex: have them view one of those graphic birthing videos that the hospital has for first-time parents, the kind that shows the crowning and the afterbirth, the agony and the joy. The kids will get the idea.
One of the bright points in Barack Obama’s rising political star is his ability to talk about Jesus without faking it. But his enemies, including right-wing bloggers and TV pundits, are complaining that Obama’s church—Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago—embraces an Africentrism that is separatist or even racist. Just what is this Africentrism?